Understanding Pain: Exploring the Perception of Pain [NOOK Book]


If you touch something hot, it hurts. You snatch your hand away from the hot thing immediately. Obviously. But what is really happening, biologically -- and emotionally? In Understanding Pain, Fernando Cervero explores the mechanisms and the meaning of pain. You touch something hot and your brain triggers a reflex action that causes you to withdraw your hand, protecting you from injury. That kind of pain, Cervero explains, is actually good for us; it acts as an alarm that warns us of danger and keeps us away ...
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Understanding Pain: Exploring the Perception of Pain

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If you touch something hot, it hurts. You snatch your hand away from the hot thing immediately. Obviously. But what is really happening, biologically -- and emotionally? In Understanding Pain, Fernando Cervero explores the mechanisms and the meaning of pain. You touch something hot and your brain triggers a reflex action that causes you to withdraw your hand, protecting you from injury. That kind of pain, Cervero explains, is actually good for us; it acts as an alarm that warns us of danger and keeps us away from harm.But, Cervero tells us, not all pain is good for you. There is another kind of pain that is more like a curse: chronic pain that is not related to injury. This is the kind of pain that fills pain clinics and makes life miserable. Cervero describes current research into the mysteries of chronic pain and efforts to develop more effective treatments. Cervero reminds us that pain is the most common reason for people to seek medical attention, but that it remains a biological enigma. It is protective, but not always. Its effects are not only sensory but also emotional. There is no way to measure it objectively, no test that comes back positive for pain; the only way a medical professional can gauge pain is by listening to the patient's description of it. The idea of pain as a test of character or a punishment to be borne is changing; prevention and treatment of pain are increasingly important to researchers, clinicians, and patients. Cervero's account brings us closer to understanding the meaning of pain.
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Editorial Reviews

New Scientist - Samantha Murphy
In Understanding Pain, Fernando Cervero... gives a remarkably lively tour of what we do know... Cervero provides a rich and historical backdrop, and layers his explanations with colourful metaphors and relatable examples.
Times Higher Education - Gila Moalem-Taylor
This is an enjoyable and thought-provoking work, written in an accessible style that will be welcomed by those who are interested in the discipline of pain and have some background knowledge in neuroscience.
Perception - Jonathon Brooks
All throughout Understanding Pain Fernando Cervero illustrates the biological enigma that is pain through the use of carefully chosen anecdotes, and patients' descriptions of their symptoms. The book provides a comprehensive and accessible review of the neurobiological basis of pain perception,and will be of interest to both pain researchers and the reader with a general interest in pain.
Doody's Review Service
Reviewer: Tariq M. Malik, MD (University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine)
Description: This excellent overview of the physiology of pain with a historical context is written by an established authority in the field who describes the nuances that make understanding pain such a fascinating subject yet at the same time acknowledges the difficulty in treating it.
Purpose: The purpose is to explain pain as a symptom and its purpose in the context of human survival. It describes how the body processes pain and reacts to this sensation, lending a philosophical context to a purely physiological process.
Audience: The book is meant for both clinicians and nonclinicians who strive to understand pain. It explains the whole process in a fluid and nontechnical way so that readers do not need to have any training in anatomy or physiology to follow the discussion.
Features: The first of the book's 10 chapters defines pain, explaining what each word in the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) definition of pain means. The second chapter discusses problems that involve measuring and comparing the intensity of pain and the animal models used to measure the analgesic potency of drugs. The next series of chapters covers the neurophysiology of pain, starting with the neuroanatomy and neurophysiology of pain receptors, pain processing at the spinal cord, and higher pain centers. It then explores visceral pain and neuropathic pain pathophysiology. The chapter on sensitization is an excellent review of the current knowledge of the hypersensitivity process, which is the underlying process in chronic pain. The author has successfully made a scientific work into a piece of literature, for that is what it reads like. It's not a book to prepare for any test — there is no in-depth discussion of pain physiology or anatomy — rather it is a book that reviews concepts of pain and all of its ramifications in a story-like fashion.
Assessment: The preface may lead one to believe that this is a treatise on pain physiology or anatomy. Instead, it reviews the development of the understanding of pain over the years leading to our current thinking. It humanizes pain and is a must read for anyone who wants to understand pain or wants to manage patients with pain.
Library Journal
Cervero (anesthesia, McGill Univ., Montreal) discusses how and why we experience pain and what can be done about it. After briefly explaining the history of how pain has been defined and interpreted since ancient times, he discusses types of pain, ways of measuring it, how pain is generated and processed through the brain and nervous system, how people perceive and experience pain, and the past and future of treatment. Though his book is more medical text than manifesto, Cervero advocates for pain to be treated "as a disease in its own right" and describes pain treatment as "a fundamental human right." He discusses functional pain syndromes (that is, pain with no identifiable physical cause, including fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome) without being dismissive. VERDICT Cervero condenses a wealth of information into a succinct yet comprehensive summary of what is known about the physiological and psychological aspects of pain. Lay readers may struggle with the academic writing style and terminology, but those who persevere will learn much about the universal human experience that is pain.—Janet A. Crum, City of Hope Lib., Duarte, CA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262304504
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 8/17/2012
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 192
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Fernando Cervero, President of the International Association for the Study of Pain, is Professor of Anesthesia at McGill University, where he is the Director of the Alan Edwards Centre for Research on Pain.

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Table of Contents

Preface xi

1 A Biological Enigma: The Meaning of Pain 1

2 How Much It Hurts: Measuring Pain 19

3 Nociceptors: Sensing Pain 35

4 The Enchanted Loom: Pain Networks 53

5 Pain Dynamics: Sensitization 69

6 I Feel Your Pain: Perception and the Brain 85

7 A Certain Gut Feeling: Visceral Pain 99

8 A Mere Curse: Neuropathic Pain 117

9 Sex, Genes, and Stress: Pain Modulation 133

10 A Pain-Free World: Curing Pain 147

Epilogue 163

Glossary 167

Index 169

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